I was perusing Facebook (as I am wont to do), and I ran across the following gem:
“[13 year old son]’s memory foam pillow was completely destroyed by some cool teenagers with shaving cream, and I’m hoping his 49er jacket and sleeping bag are repairable. Immaturity costs.”
I know I should have bit my tongue, but I couldn’t help but respond:
“Why did you let him bring nice stuff? I know it has been years since the whole mustard/ketchup-in-beds escapade, but…I don’t think teenagers change. Ever.”
Tiny bit of background: First, this particular Mama Bear is about eight years older than me, but I still went to camp with her sisters. Second, this event took place at a youth camp. Now, I know some people (usually sweet Christian mommies) think that all Christian children (especially their own!) constantly wear a halo, and if their devil horns should perchance appear, immediately pray that the Lord smite the evil within the child. Reality check: nobody’s a saint. Including your little cherubs. Especially your little cherubs.
Leaving aside the fact that her kid has a memory foam pillow, let’s circle around to the more pertinent fact that these are TEENAGERS, who are spending an entire WEEK away from home with limited adult supervision*. On top of that, her son is 13, which means not only is he on the very bottom of the teenage pecking order, but all of his friends are going to be wilder than their 17 year old counterparts in the next cabin over. I’m not saying that 17 year olds are smart; I’m just saying that they’re smarter about when they’re stupid.
Now, I have never studied this in depth, but I am pretty sure that, no matter the generation of teenager, if you take away their electronic devises and throw them into an away-camp, they will exhibit most of the same behaviors. I’m also fairly sure that shaving cream pranks are fairly mild for this particular stay-away camp (which I did attend at one point–as did Mama Bear and Mama Bear’s little siblings). For example….
Caveat before I give examples. I was most definitely not involved or an accessory to any of the events listed below. Especially the ones that might be illegal.
Exhibit A: Duct Tape
Four very gentle and careful teen boys put full makeup on a camp counselor and duct taped him to his bed. Nobody realized he was stuck until 10AM the next day. Result: Duct Tape=Banned.
Exhibit B: Peace Brownies
In hopes of ending a war between the girls’ cabins and the boys’ cabins, the girls made brownies, which they shared with the boys. The catch: the girls had found a perfectly-safe-to-ingest chemical that turns pee red. Result: Loud screams from the boys’ cabins. Statewide ban on tainting food with chemicals, which major food production companies still ignore today.
Exhibit C: Cheese Wiz and Lipstick
Three boys painted the nails of another poor sucker and put full makeup on him, after which they carried his sleeping mat outside and covered him with Cheese Wiz. Camp counselor then trips over him while doing rounds early the next morning. Result: Cheese Wiz is banned, Poor Sucker wears gloves for the rest of the week.
Now, before anyone cries “bully”, I would like to point out that the pranksters usually pranked each other, mainly because they were trying to get back at each other. It’s the n00b pranksters that try to hit non-pranksters (Protip for not being pranked: put the lightest sleeper on the top bunk, and instruct them that, if they wake up to find someone in the cabin that ought not be there, they should grab a handful of the offender’s hair and give a good, strong yank).
Moral of the story: No matter what you do, if you take away teenagers’ electronics and let them live together for a few days (or more), there will be mayhem. So pack accordingly. And don’t send their nice new sports jacket with them.
*Adequate adult supervision for such outings would amount to 1 adult per bunkroom of teenagers, which is boring and destroys the point of having a stay-away camp in the first place.